GREENCASTLE -- Senior night proved to be an exciting affair at McAnally Center Friday night as Greencastle was able to hold off a late Southmont rally en route to a 94-86 victory. The 94 points was the highest total of the season for the Tiger Cubs, while also scoring more points than their last two games combined.
Greencastle was able to exploit a large size differential early in the contest, with 6'7" sophomore Nick Hutcheson being the target man for the Tiger Cubs. He scored 10 of Greencastle's 24 first quarter points, getting easy shots around the basket while the rest of the Cubs were knocking down perimeter shots, something that pleased head coach Troy Greenlee.
"Tonight was the first time we've really been able to exploit our size against a smaller team," Greenlee said. "We counted on Nick, and he was effective again tonight. We've struggled at times from the perimeter but we got both tonight, which made us a threat both inside and outside."
Southmont, who only scored seven points in the first, came out swinging in the second, spreading out the Cubs and driving to the basket, getting several second chance opportunities and getting to the free throw line far more than Greenlee liked.
"Southmont stayed in the game with offensive rebounds and free throws. We need to cut down on giving teams second chance looks. Nick missed a block out and they had a guy get a put back. It was a 6'7" guy against a 5'11" guy. We've got to get better at that because we'll play other teams with size in later games," Greenlee pointed out.
The tempo of the contest increased as the Mounties tried to out-hustle the Tiger Cubs after the first quarter and their efforts paid off with a 30-point second quarter to bring the lead down to 11 at 48-37.
Greencastle rebuilt the lead to 15 at 71-56 after three quarters with a gritty, scrappy display as both teams struggled a bit at times on the offensive end during the third quarter. Southmont began to apply more pressure as the third quarter went along, leading to the full court press used for much of the fourth quarter.
It was certainly not a game to be leaving McAnally early for as Southmont's pressure began to tell, with several turnovers and easy baskets keeping the Mounties in the thick of things, chipping away at the 15-point advantage and bringing it down to as close as six points behind several late three-pointers.
A pair of lay-ups from freshman Hayden Stuckwisch and Hutcheson sealed the contest late as the Tiger Cubs were able to hang on to the 94-86 win. Hutcheson stole the spotlight on senior night with 33 points and 23 rebounds, but the team contribution behind the center was key in the win.
"We scored early and it was good to see us come out and play well," Greenlee said. "We played with the confidence that we'd put the ball in the basket, which made us a threat both inside and outside."
While the underclassmen carried the brunt of the load, seniors Eric Embry and Jordan Hickam made important contributions to the cause.
"Eric started the game for us and played well. He hit a couple of early shots that got us going. Jordan was hurt and we weren't sure he was going to play tonight. He tested out his knee early and though he wasn't himself, he gutted it out tonight. It was a good win for us and for them on their last night at home," Greenlee said.
With the sectional draw Sunday, Greencastle will know its sectional fate before it makes a trip to the host site Tuesday to play potential sectional opponent Owen Valley.
"Hopefully we can build on the momentum of this game and take it into the last two games against Owen Valley, a sectional team, and North Montgomery, another 3A school," Greenlee said. "We need to build off this and play those games like we played tonight."
On the sectional itself, Greenlee was a little tongue-in-cheek about the seven-team sectional draw.
"Of course, we'd love to have the bye," Greenlee said with a chuckle. "We had Sullivan beat at Sullivan but lost it late. We've been competitive with the other sectional teams this year. You can make a case for any team in this sectional winning it."
"If we can get to the final game, it'll be wide open."
At McAnally Center
Southmont 7 30 19 30 -- 86
Greencastle 24 24 23 23 -- 94
Southmont -- Burkett 3, 6-10, 13, Overpeck 3, 1-2, 8, Long 6, 1-1, 15, Rose 1, 1-2, 3, Roberts 2, 0-1, 4, Murray 10, 4-6, 25, Burton 5, 1-2, 14, McKinney 2, 0-0, 4
Three Pointers: -- 8, Burton (3), Long (2), Burkett, Overpeck, Murray
Free Throws -- 14-24 (58%)
Greencastle -- Huber 2, 0-0, 4, Embry 2, 0-0, 6, Hickam 3, 1-2, 8, Stuckwisch 5, 5-7, 17, Lewis 5, 4-6, 15, Hennette 5, 1-2, 11, Hutcheson 11, 11-12, 33
Three Pointers -- 6, Embry (2), Stuckwisch (2), Hickam, Lewis
Free Throws -- 22-29 (76%)
Next Game -- Greencastle travels to Owen Valley Tuesday.